Wednesday, February 10, 2010

What Didn't Sit Right About the Doritos Commercial?

I've already spoken at length about the controversial Tim Tebow Super Bowl ad but there was another ad that stuck with me and I just couldn't figure out why. It was one of the many Doritos commercials that were featured during the telecast and it was the one with the little kid who slaps a young man who was courting his mother.

Although I initially found some humor in this particular ad, I found myself thinking there was something deeper about the spot that didn't sit well with me. I couldn't figure it out until I read this post by Jam Donaldson. You can view the ad below (click here if the player doesn't show up) and read some poignant thoughts from Donaldson after the video.

From Donaldson:
"I know, I know, it's only a commercial; they are just meant to be funny. However, with the lack of strong black men on television, eternally single black Mothers, black young men seen as goofy sex-starved slackers and out-of-wedlock bad a** black children, somehow this spot just played in to every aspect of the community that silently haunts us. And then we are supposed to laugh.

All that was missing was the hoochie teenage neighbor, thug life aspiring rapper older brother or the sassy overweight no-nonsense, neck-rolling auntie. These black archetypes are getting so tired. I'm sooooo weary of the single-mom-playboy-man-bad-kid paradigm that seems to dominate our images on TV. And now its being used to sell Dorito's. I almost long for the days of the mean black dad and the coon. At least men were in control of their households. I mean, when a child can get in your face, slap you and you sit looking petrified, how are we to believe the black man is strong and in control of anything? (President Barack Obama, not withstanding)

But on the other hand, there's no real reason why a scenario that takes place every day in the homes of single parents everywhere can't be relayed with a bit of harmless, over-the-top humor. So maybe there's no harm, no foul. It could be me. I don't know. I just feel like it's time for a new breed of stock characters in our pantheon of media representations. Am I being a hypersensitive black person (HBP)? Am I tripping? Am I PMS'ing? I mean, I can't lie, I love me some Dorito's."
This ad demonstrates just one of the many images that are presented to us every day in the media that we may laugh at and not give it a second thought. It could simply be innocent fun or we could be contributing to the perpetuation of damaging stereotypes. Some may even wonder if, as a white man, I'm in any kind of position to even be commenting on this. And maybe they're right. But I do think it's something worth thinking about.

No comments: